Homecoming (Deluxe Edition)
Shanachie Entertainment (release date: October 29, 2021)
By Robert M. Marovich
Gene Hoskins, a mental health therapist and gospel singer from North Carolina, combines his passions to provide insight and encouragement on Homecoming (Deluxe Edition).
Eliding seamlessly, the first two selections, “Prodigal P.O.V.” and the title track, are the physician healing himself. Hoskins meanders on an introspective electronic R&B path, a sort-of gospel recitative on his journey back to spiritual clarity.
The album truly comes alive, however, with “Make It With Jesus,” an explosively churchy piece. The single, which hit #14 on Billboard’s Gospel Singles chart, gave Hoskins’ self-released January 2021 Homecoming a new life. Seeing promise, Shanachie Entertainment re-released it in October as a deluxe version with three new tracks.
The Holy Week ballad “Blood Love,” which interpolates “Nothing But the Blood,” showcases Hoskins’ elastic tenor and the harmonizing skills of his background vocalists. Unlike the two opening songs and “Unconditional Love,” which rely heavily on electronic vocal manipulation, “Blood Love” allows Hoskins to unveil his vocal talent by simply singing.
“Deal” opens with Hoskins talking about trauma, then blooms into a relaxed ballad about taking charge of one’s life. It expresses in lyric and music arrangement how grace is the antidote to trauma. This track offers some of Hoskins’ best singing on the album. His voice and those of his BGVs are allowed to just be, without synthetic accoutrement.
“Perform Again” riffs on the premise that if God can do it once, he can do it again. The background vocalists here, as elsewhere on the album, provide crisp and competent assistance as Hoskins offers up passionate, unrestrained singing. Speaking of passionate, the always-effervescent Maranda Curtis injects extra vocal verve to the worshipful “The Greater Name.” Tracks like “Undefeated” and “Champion” use battle imagery to depict Jesus as a fearless general leading his people to victory.
Long a background vocalist for top gospel artists, Gene Hoskins might just be able to ride Homecoming (Deluxe Edition) to the Stellar Awards.
Four of Five Stars
Picks: “Make It With Jesus,” “Deal”